A few years ago while travelling through Sweden I paid a visit to a friend I met travelling while she was passing through my country. I stayed for a week and lodged in the family house. The whole family could speak perfect English like most Swedish people do.
But as my cultural exchange the wanted me to learn one token word from Swedish. The chose one of the hardest words for a foreign speaker which is the number 7 or tju in Swedish. (pronounced something like “huwooo”, but fast). They said it to me and asked me to repeat it.
After the several attempts I’d made, it still didn’t sound like it to them, and they told me they would check my progress every day.
Whilst out with my friend and her friends, she told her friends what the family had asked me to learn and after repeating the word to them, they were agreed that it didn’t sound Swedish at all.
Every day they would check my progress when they returned from work. On the Friday after 6 days there I didn’t have much to do and spent most of my day watching television. Because in Sweden they don’t dub their television audio I was using a dictionary and developing a few more words to use.
Later in the afternoon while walking through the main part of the town of Halmstad I saw one of my friends’ friends and he asked me how it was going. I said the word and he remarked that I had done it. When the family had arrived home they asked me the question. I repeated it to them but instead said tju hundra tjuty tju which is 777 and they applauded me for my advanced effort. Directly afterwards I said to them “Tala langsamt. Jag är ett potatis huvud” and they looked at me puzzled. I said in English “speak slow I am a potato head’ and while it was clear that they understood me, they still had the puzzled look as to ‘why would I say such a thing’.
I repeated this story to an English traveller visiting my town in Australia, and later that night he walked into his dorm room and repeated to a Swedish guy in his room “tju hundra tjuty tju” , to which the Swedish guy in Swedish replied 7,777,777.
Now that all of you have learnt from my lesson the next thing to master with your new Swedish pronunciation is the Swedish tongue twister “Sju sjösjuka sjömän sköttes av sju sköna sjuksköterskor.”
- Swedish Elks Busted in Backyard Threesome (Photo) (dailypicksandflicks.com)